Networking is not just about landing the next job or promotion,” says networking strategist Kelly Hoey, “it also plays a big part in how you get your job done today.”
In other words, we should be networking all the time.
When she’s at conferences or even just in a coffee shop, Hoey gets peppered with questions: What’s the best way to network to keep your job? How do you find a new job? How do I connect with people to solve a problem I’m having at work?
So, Hoey decided to compile the answers in a book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World (TarcherPerigee).
She recently talked with Parade about the book and shared some of the surprising things she’s learned about networking over the years.
You’ve made a name for yourself as a networking expert. Are you good at following your own advice?
Other than getting enough sleep and exercising regularly, yes.
You say that introverts make the best networkers. Did that surprise you?
As it turned out, most of the people I interviewed for the book were introverts, and I was not expecting that. I was focused on what they had achieved and the path they took to get there. I did not focus on their personality type.
I think people who are focused and considerate are far better networkers. And I think introverts, because they are managing their own discomfort with that activity of networking, are much more focused in the selection of things they will do. They are much more considerate—and researched—when they’re reaching out to ask somebody to help them or to take some of that person’s time.
So, a shy person is someone who due to their own discomfort, gets right to the point?
Exactly. [They’ll say], “You know what, I do want to connect you with this person, but let me find out if this is the right time for them.”
Are you an introvert?
I’m an ambivert, right between an extrovert and introvert. I think introverts think about the impact on someone else regarding a networking ask. Because I think an introvert thinks about how it feels to her.
You talk about networking generosity in the book. Please explain.
Networking is a two-way street. We always talk about networking generosity and being generous in the sense of being considerate when you’re networking and one of the most generous things you can do in this day and age is be thoughtful and well-researched in why you’re asking somebody else for their time.
How should we manage our own time when it comes to networking?
Think about why you’re spending your own time, whether it’s getting involved with an association or attending a meet-up or whatever. If you’re going on a road trip, I’m sure some people do get in the car and say, “Let’s just get driving.”
But most of us know where we’re headed. And so with networking, rather than focusing on signing up for endless cocktail parties and meet ups or joining groups for the sake of joining groups, go back to the beginning and say: Where am I headed? What’s my goal? What is it that I want to achieve? And then think about: who are the people I need to connect to? Because it’s other people who help us achieve our goals or solve our problem or help us overcome a challenge.
How useful is online networking – “meeting people” on Linkedin for instance?
You have to be amphibious. It’s not just online, it’s not just offline, it’s both. Because the people we’re communicating with are online and offline. It takes seven touch points to close a sale. So, your seven touch points may be a follow, a like, an update, a retweet, a voicemail, an email and a coffee date. You need to do both.
Do you find in your research that millennials approach networking differently?
Obviously, they’re a digital-first generation. But you’ve also seen the rise, at the same time, of the number of meet-ups, the number of maker spaces. Think about how audio and podcasts have become so popular. This is also a generation that is seeking to connect deeply. Like with any generation, some people are wedded to a certain mode of networking, but I think anyone who is digitally savvy and has experiences in dealing and working with others – maybe you played a team sport or were involved in a community, working on projects, accomplishing a goal, volunteering – and you have that emotional intelligence because you have not been isolated in your social and academic achievements, people who are able to bring those two pieces together are going to be far more successful.
So much of social media seems to be about tooting your own horn. How do you go about promoting yourself without being pompous?
Everyone’s looking for great insight and sharing a point of view, so the ways of doing that – it could be about things you’ve written or done or it could also be expressing opinions on something in your industry. People are looking for smarts.
So many people work remotely now. If you’re one of them, how do you connect?
Some of it may be saying, “Hey, I was going to talk to this person anyway, so rather than sending endless emails or getting on the phone, why not get on Skype?” Then you can see their face and have a deeper human connection. I remember when I worked in an office, I’d see people on speakerphone with someone who was halfway down the hallway, and I’d look at them, like, what are you doing?
In some ways, it’s like working remotely, because everyone gets behind their computer and stays glued to their seat all day. Ask someone to go grab a coffee and continue the conversation off email. You’ll find a kindred spirit.
Is it a matter of getting out of your own routine?
Yes. Break up your own habits and find other ways to connect with people. If you’re working at home, find ways to participate in a local meet up, or it may be getting on a Google Plus hangout or find some twitter chats to engage in to get different points of view and connect with different people.
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